INTERVIEW: Gracepoint - David Tennant On Guns, Accents And Plot Changes

David Tennant spent the first few months of this year as a resident of Vancouver Island, Canada, filming the US remake of his 2013 drama Broadchurch. Retitled Gracepoint, the Fox TV remake sees the familiar story and characters transferred to a brand new setting, a northern Californian seaside town. The rugged coastline and the small-town locations of the Greater Victoria area made an ideal substitute for the UK’s West Country.

Just before he left the island, David took time out to talk to local Victoria newspaper, the Times Colonist on Island View Beach, Oak Bay. David, who went straight from wrapping Gracepoint to commencing work on the second series of Broadchurch, talked about the similarities and differences between his two characters, the UK’s Alec Hardy and his American counterpart Emmett Carver.

“The look is very similar and the story’s very similar but [Carver] feels different in my head,” David said. “He sounds different and he wears a gun, which, of course, they don’t do back home. I don’t have to do much sharpshooting. He gets it out of his holster a couple of times, but I think I can handle myself.”

It was an unusual opportunity, he added, to be offered the chance to play both characters in different settings. “It was also unprecedented. I dare say it could have gone different ways. Alec and Emmet didn’t have to look the same, but it turns out they do.”

David uses an American accent to play Carver in Gracepoint. The accent has come in for some criticism from some, mainly UK, commentors, which disappointingly saw sections of the British press eagerly leaping on the bandwagon to call the performance poor on the basis of a single short preview clip. This was despite US critics and Gracepoint producers and co-stars having no issue with his interpretation.

“It’s not really for me to judge,” said David, although he had previously commented that his dialect coach had pulled him up for starting to sound too Canadian. “[It] makes you wear your clothes differently, walk differently,” he added. “I've clearly crossed the rubicon and have a new set of issues. It’s a very keen point of concentration. You want to get it right because you’re having to fool the natives, I suppose.”

David also had to play Carver interacting with characters familiar from the original but played differently by this version's cast. He specifically mentioned Anna Gunn and Olivia Colman, both playing different versions of Carver / Hardy’s detective partner Ellie Miller.

“They are very different yet equally persuasive readings of the character,” he said. “I wondered how much of that is cultural and how much it has to do with the actresses themselves.”

Gracepoint, like Broadchurch follows the impact on a small coastal town of the discovery of the body of a local boy on the beach. The murder investigation and press scrutiny threaten to tear the small community apart. The producers, including original franchise creator Chris Chibnall, have said that the plot of Gracepoint diverges after the initial episodes. David reveals that some of the characters live a very different life and play a different role in the remake. However, what he didn’t know at the time of the interview was how the drama was going to end.

“I genuinely am in the dark as I sit here today. I’m in the same position now as I was on Broadchurch,” he claimed.

And what about his temporary home over the last few months? How did he find the island?

“If the rest of Canada is as welcoming as Victoria and Vancouver Island, then this is clearly the place to be,” David said

Gracepoint premieres in the US on Fox and on the Global Network in Canada on Thursday 2nd October at 9pm ET. The Australian premiere is Friday 3rd October on the Universal Channel at 8.30pm. The UK broadcast has yet to be confirmed.